The Siren’s Song — it’s OK to be yourself — to let others know who you are and what you’re up to.
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First of all, a quote from Richard Bach’s Illusions (pg 46:)
Learning is finding out what you already know.
Doing is demonstrating that you know it.
Teaching is reminding others that they know as well as you.
Back around the turn of the century, we lived in a small town called Elmira. Weekend visitors would often be quite startled when the “air raid” siren went off at noon on Saturday.
Now, coming from the United States, I certainly remember, in the 50’s and 60’s, hearing the sirens being tested. Until we moved to Elmira, I didn’t even know Canadians had sirens.
Here in Samara, Costa Rica, there’s a truck that drives around. Mostly it plugs parties and dances, or you hear about great deals on bananas.
Occasionally, it’s a loud public service announcement about power outages.
Our Spanish is OK, but the announcements are coming through loudspeakers, and they sound like train station or airport announcements. Really hard to hear, let alone understand.
So, Darbella and I run outside, across the condo lawn, and try to get closer to the truck. As we live on a corner, the truck often goes by 4 times, and usually by the 4th (or 10th) time, we’ve figured out the gist of it.
My odd little point here, about sirens and announcements, is that the “people in charge” had pre-determined that their message is important enough to share. And even more, they decided that I (or we all) get to listen to it.
No permission asked or granted. Just a message conveyed.
There’s something really interesting about people expressing their uniqueness — and doing so directly and clearly. I’m impressed enough to write about this because, these days, departing from the crowd and standing out seems to be limited to people like Trump. (Not sure why I thought of him… and the sound of an air raid siren.)
What I’m really suggesting is that we don’t want to cede the stage to blowhards. We need more voices that walk The Pathless Path.
Way too many people seem to “dabble” at life. They express themselves timidly, if at all. They write, they paint, they act… timidly. They protest… timidly.
On the other hand, I think about people like Malala Yousafzai… shot in the head for getting an education… for speaking out… recovering… and instead of hiding, she’s out there… making her point, again and again, catching one’s attention, and certainly getting her point across.
Back in 1982, I had an epiphany.
For the first 31 years of my life, I’d worked off of my power. I was a bit of a bull in a china shop. I thought I could make things happen through force of will… through “loudness.”
One day, I had a good look at myself, didn’t like the game I was choosing, and I shifted. I let go of power plays, and became “simply interested.” I discovered I was no longer interested in change for change’s sake.
I was interested in learning how I, and others, framed their existence. I was interested in who people were, beneath the games.
- How, I wondered, do we choose to stay stuck in bad relationships?
- Why do we continue to choose to repeat behaviours that don’t work?
- Why are we willing to think about our issues, while so few are willing to do the work of living out of their core beliefs?
I began to realize how little I knew.
I decided to implement choice in my life, and evaluate the validity of the choice by the results I got. I saw that this path is a path of strength; it involved probing deeper into myself, then moving more directly “out there” with what I was learning.
My path became one of sharing myself with others. Not to get others to walk my path. Rather, I help others to evaluate their path, to discard what doesn’t work, to choose to actually implement other ways of being. Without excuse.
I wish I had a buck for every person I’ve ever heard say, “I know this stuff and how I want to live my life, but I can’t seem to make myself do it.”
I remind them:
On the other hand:
On the third hand, I still occasionally act out of my six-year-old self and make messes for myself.
- Can I learn that this, too, is a part of my nature?
- Can I accept this clumsy little boy within, comfort him, but also clean up his messes?
- In other words, can I accept the 6‑year-old that is a part of me, but not, at the same time, turn into him?
I’ve been on this path since I chose it in 1982. I am amazed at its twists and turns — how many opportunities for learning AND application I have been given. I understand my path to be mine, and mine alone. I make choices about my life on the basis of this path, and don’t choose to walk another path.
I’ve learned that its impossible to do this work on my own. I’ve needed to find and listen to mentors — fellow “walkers on the Way.”
If you are confused or feeling stuck, find a mentor, a spiritual director, a coach. Surrender your present understandings and explore new ways.
If you are walking on your path, and are content, then just look in my direction and wave. We may not know where we are going, but my, my, my, the companionship is spectacular!